I took some men to a poor community the other day. These men, Don and Tim, were visiting from the great state of Mississippi. We went to try to share the gospel. I say "try" because you just don't know what may happen in any given moment. I went to specifically share with men, men I knew would be there because they were helping us build retaining walls on the steep, dangerous hillside this community sits upon. I knew they would be there. I knew they would not mind a break from that back-wrenching work, either.
So off we went. The first part of the journey within the community was easy. It was up the new steps we had poured just 6 weeks ago. But we got to the top and my guests were on the winded side. So was I. It was a steep climb, even on stairs. We watched the men work all around us. Soon I called to the foreman and had them bring the men into two groups, well apart from one another.
It was a dirty walk across the hill. Don's navy blue pants were now blue and brown. His brown shoes were covered with the same light-brown dust. That's partly from the dirt; it was also from the fragmented grey rocks strewn all around us. We slid down the rocks on the part of the hill where we were going to be preaching. We were both covered in dirt, Don more than I. But a little dirt would not deter us from our mission. Don joked that he hoped he did not cause a landslide coming down the hill. He looked as though he tried.
My friend Don preached to one group, with me translating. Another man translated for the other guest. Off we went, preaching the gospel. There sat those men, filling up the stairs in front of us. Don startled them with one question, "If you died today, do you know if you would spend eternity in heaven?" He had their attention. The men before me live for today. They don't like to think about eternity. Or death. Or heaven. Or hell. But now they had to. It was before them, like an open chasm for them to look into.
Don shared simply, but with passion. The men listened intently. I did my best to translate with the same passion Don showed them. He ably demonstrated by Scripture that we are all sinners. Sin has wages: death--separation from God. Someone paid the wages; his name is Jesus. Jesus died for our sin. Jesus paid the price. We can be free from those wages, if we so desire. All this Don showed in the word of God.
Before long, fifteen men bowed their heads and asked Jesus to save them. I feel that most of them were genuine in their repentance and plea for salvation. Their tears seemed to indicate it. Their hearty applause and handshakes also seemed to show it.
I wish I could take you there with these words. There are no adequate words to describe the scene that unfolded before us. It was a God-moment. I almost thought I heard the joyous shouts in heaven.
Let the celebration begin!